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Setting the Table for Success

May 13th, 2011 - By Lari Robling

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We all know the support of family and friends can help you eat more healthfully. Debi Shawcross, author of Friends at the Table, says forming a nutrition supper club is a good way to work toward those goals. It’s educational, economical and fun.


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Debi Shawcross

You’ve just gotten a diagnosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, or you simply have to start eating healthier. Lauren Swann is a registered dietician, consultant and president of Concept Nutrition. She says a peer group can be helpful, “studies have shown, and lots of people have discovered through their own personal experiences, that when you have the support of family and co-workers and friends, when you are surrounded by people who also are working at eating healthier, than it’s a lot more successful.”

There are plenty of commercial support systems, but they can be expensive. Debi Shawcross, author of Friends at the Table says, “a supper club is a way that you can actually bring people together when you are all growing and learning about food. Shawcross also says forming your own nutrition supper club is economical and fun. So, you form a club… what’s for dinner?

“With the availability of farmers markets and fresh seasonal ingredients, I would start there. Shawcross also says part of the fun is learning about ethnic foods. Take her recipe for Chicken and eggplant seasoned with miso, “a few years ago it was a little harder to find miso, but now you can find it in the refrigerator section. It’s very popular in Japanese dishes, and the lighter the shade is more mild in flavor and the deeper you go into the red is much more intense.” Miso does have health properties, but what about the sodium? Shawcross says part of the learning process is adapting recipes to meet your own nutritional needs. “I would go definitely with the low sodium soy sauce still packed with flavor. And then as an alternative to the red curry paste you could just use dried Italian red pepper flakes or even some fresh Thai chilis if you really like some spice. You can dice some of those up and add those in as well and cut your sodium.”

Additionally, Shawcross says you can incorporate fitness into your club as well as healthy eating. “Instead of just always having dinner at your dining room table, take the dinner party outside. Anything where you are kind of mobile for a little bit from going for a walk, to hike, bike riding…” Shawcross advises setting common goals for your nutrition supper club, whether it’s learning healthy cooking techniques, or joining a CSA farm share and cooking seasonally.

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